As a youngster, I would get home from School, get changed and go out to play with my pals.
Now I'm older, I get home from work, get changed and go out to play with my pals, but now I call it training.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

in the right direction

Unlike that time with Sparky when I went the wrong way off Gt Gable, training wise, things are now going in the right direction.

For the last 2 weeks I have stuck to my plans and completed;

1hr roadrun on a Tuesday,
Blencathra ascent on a Wednesday,
track session of mile reps on a Thursday.

I know this isnt a particularly high volume of training, but its about as much as I can manage at the mo', both in terms of time management and tiredness.

Clearly, a coach or personal trainer would spread out those 3 runs over the 5 weekdays rather than lump them together consecutively like I do, but, I love my Fridays off and at present, with my weekends usually being long tough hill running, I am still pretty knackered on a Monday. Perhaps once the days lengthen I will do an hours offroad jogging with Scamp on a Monday.

Sparky knows less about map reading than me - here, Cazzy is confused by an upside down map

Saturdays I try to do a short(ish) fellrun of no more than 2.5 hours and include a big ascent like Skiddaw or Blen' within that. Then Sundays I'm aiming for a much longer fell outing of at least 4 hours, including plenty of ascent.

The weekend just gone was a little different in that I ran the Northern Cross Country Champs on Saturday. The course was mildly undulating and covered in about 3-5 inches of snow. My race was the last one of the day and by then the course was an absolute quagmire. Every footfall saw you sink above ankle depth in either snow, slush, water or mud. It was a long way too - 12k I think, and took me over 51 minutes. I was 173rd from 583 finishers.  A year ago I was 206th from 687 finishers. Pluckys Mrs is a maths teacher but I didnt ask for her help in calculating that I was  29.9% through the  finishers last year, and 29.6% this time. Consistent.

arm across body - sorry Phil
Everyone who ran agreed the conditions were brutal. I didn't realise how hard my legs must have worked until the next day when I was out in the fells. I was absolutely spent within an hour and despite not hitting a single summit and being finished inside 3 hours I was wrecked and had very sore legs until Monday. It's all good training of course, and hopefully will payoff in the summer.

We Continue

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tour de Gt Gable (part two)

So where was I? Ah yes, descending into Wasdale. More or less where civilization was reached, the snow mostly ran out too, so I had to remove my Kahtoolas and carry them while the ground was stony. A right turn toward Kirk Fell next, and height soon being gained again. I glanced across to Lingmell, guardian of the Scafells, and also to what I think is Yewbarrow. If I'm right, then this is a seriously tough start to leg 4 on legs that have just ran down one of the longest descents in England.
The reason I'm not sure about this being Yewbarrow is because I don't also have a wider angled shot from the same spot and once home, with 30 odd images, it is sometimes hard to remember which hill I was pointing the camera at.

Unusually for me, I took a look at a map as I climbed around the flank of Kirkfell. This was uncharted territory for me - never previously had I set a foot in this natural amphitheatre called Mosedale that is formed by Pillar, Red Pike, Scoat Fell and Steeple enclosing it. I have never bagged any of those summits either. Or Yewbarrow, or Kirkfell. Maybe one day eh?

Yewbarrow is definitely in this photo (below) rising up from centre to right. At this point I had swung around more Easterly and could see ahead where Black Sail Pass was heading. Snow was getting deeper again, and the river was frozen. There were a lot of folk knocking around these parts. Several groups in fact. They mostly seemed to be off the main paths though - heading up daft ground into seemingly impenetrable rock. I realised later that many of them were climbing the icy vertices's. Must be bloody cold doing that I reckon- Ok when physically climbing but there seemed to be a lot of standing around involved.
Gatherstone Beck on the West flank of Kirkfell. Looking to Wasdale

Onward and upward we went. At the top of Black Sail Pass I glanced up to Kirkfell on the right before popping over the other side and into Ennerdale. I realised that to my right, between Kirkfell and Gable was the place I had been a few weeks ago with Sparky and Appleby Stu. I considered staying high and going that way under Gable to Windy Gap but figured the snow cover would make it tricky to find a good route. and anyway, I wasnt in the 'avoiding descent to save ascent' business.

Windy Gap (skyline, centreframe).

zoomed in - Gt Gable in cloud

Unfortunately this was the final photo of the day. Its from just below Black Sail Pass, (Ennerdale side), looking down to the YHA where I first went earlier this year on the recce and subsequently triumphant 50k trail race. The YHA is centre frame, with a vague wavy line directly above. I didnt go to the YHA as its beyond the stream in the valley bottom. Once I crossed the stream I tried to find a path to take me up the valley but if it exists then I never found it. 

Kahtoolahs were not much use as I made my way up Ennerdale. There was nothing for them to dig into as not only was the snow getting ever deeper, but I was on a constant side slope and often struggling to move forwards at all. Windy Gap looked absolutely minuscule in the distance and I knew it would take a long time to reach there at the current rate of progress. Poor Scamp was often up to his armpits (legpits?) in the white stuff but this didnt deter him from covering his usual extra distance left, right and every which way.

Near the top I stopped to put on more gear. I wasnt working hard enough to keep warm - it was just to difficult to progress at all, never mind at a decent rate. As I sheltered to try to zip my jacket I heard voices, shouting. I looked around for an age before realising there were folk up in the crags way above me. I watched for a while in case they were stuck and signalling me - but they were obviously just some more climbers enjoying the winter conditions.

One final push and I reached Windy Gap. I didnt have any kind of upset stomach or trapped gas but it turns out that its not called Windy Gap for intestinal reasons..... But because its un-be-fuckin-leivably windy! Who'd have guessed?

Beyond the hause is an immediate drop into Aaron Slack and within just a few seconds the wind abated to a more tolerable level. I soon reached Styhead Tarn and potentially the end of the adventure. But glancing at my watch I noted it was only 3hr50 mins since Id set off and would probably be just a 20 minute descent back to the van. So I turned right instead and ran back to the Stretcher box then left up past Sprinkling Tarn to Great End buttress where I been earlier. This extra section was tough climbing in the deep loose snow, but reward came with the long descent back to Stockley Bridge where the path became an irrelevant factor. Choosing more or less any line I liked I just slid all the way back to the van, a pack of Hula Hoops (still awaiting some freeebies - I'd  also take Cheesers btw) and a coffee.

4 hours 50 minutes van to van.
Guessing 20-25 minutes stationary taking pics or adding/shedding gear.
so hopefully will have been 15 miles at least - distance kinda irrelevant anyway - its all about the time out there, on my feet, pushing hard.

We continue

(an extra photo I just noticed Id taken soon after setting out. Note - to see all the photos much bigger, click on any and they will fill the screen)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mountain high Valley low

Yesterday was brill!! One of those days when you wish there was a chippy at the Gable/Styhead stretcherbox so you could fill up your tum' and then run around the hills some more until darkness fell

As I drove away from home in the morning home I was undecided about where to go. A vague plan to check out Dave Tromans line from Skiddaw house to Blencathra via the Cloven stone, then carry on to the Dodds was considered, but I imagined the tops would be subject to clag and poor weather so opted for a 'low level' option instead....

Verge parking at Seathwaite Farm

Since getting the descent off Gt Gable wrong t'other week (went toward Kirkfell rather than Green Gable) I was keen to get back into that area and learn the layout of those fells surrounding Gable and the link between the three valleys (Wasdale/Ennerdale/Seathwaite). My planned route therefore, was to go from Seathwaite to Wasdale, then Ennderdale then Windy Gap back over to Styhead. No summits were to be included, but apart from Wasdale Head, its all quite high ground. A very rough guesstimate was for this taking inside 4 hours and I wanted to run AT LEAST 4 hours, so, from Stockley Bridge I added some ascent by going up Grains Gill and Ruddy Gill rather than straight toward Styhead. The view of Great End when going up this way is always impressive, but today it was quite incredible as the whole slab was white with hoar frost. 

Not quite as frozen as I would have liked

Quite soon after starting out I noticed a frozen waterfall just below the path. I clambered down to it and placed my bag on the ground, took the camera out and took some photos. Unfortunately it wasnt as frozen as I thought and in a bid to get the optimum shot I put my foot through the ice and into a foot of water. There was every chance I would have remained dry all day in these conditions so a wet foot so early on was an absolute bugger! I put the camera away and vowed to concentrate on the running aspect of things.

Just before the slip I did take this one of the view back toward where I had started out. 
The hole i fell through

When I reached the T junction to Esk Hause/Styhead I took the camera out and took this one of a couple of climbers deliberating taking the direct line up to the summit of Great End via the snow-filled chasm.
Great End

Dog on RHS , under Blencathra
Turning around I spotted this traditional looking dog, standing still staring across at me. So I took his (or her) photo - later on , I realised the view North to Derwentwater, Keswick, Skiddaw etc was quite nice too. Looking across to the NorthWest from this same spot I noted Windy Gap between Great and Green Gable and Aaron Slack running down from it to Styhead Tarn (unseen in photo). This was my destination - but I wouldnt reach it for another 3 hours yet. I also noted how much higher it was than my current position. This was good news. Why? Because going uphill is the hard part and doing as much of the hard part as possible is what makes you stronger.

Great Gable - Windy Gap - Green Gable
Running down past Sprinkling Tarn to Styhead was such fun. The snow was deep in places and I slipped around a bit but avoided falling.  Much later in the day I would come to think of the snow in less favourable terms.....

 Descending to Wasdale I stopped once more to grab this shot looking up onto the SW face of Gable. I cant say with any authority but I think that might be Napes Needle on the extreme LHS of shot.

That dog must have decided to follow me because here he is again in this shot looking down to Wasdale Head. (the camera - dog was/is looking back up to Gable)

Part Two to follow  in a day or so.  But as you can probably imagine...

we continued

Monday, January 14, 2013

Struggling a bit

Last weeks running was OK (ish). 3 runs. An hour on road, a fell run and an hour offroad. I didnt find the motivation to do a reps session, and that hour offroad was really just instead of walking the dog in the cold and rain.

As long as I arrange with either Plucky or Daz to run on Tuesday then thats the road run taken care of. I also need to continue going to Blencathra (other Lake district summits are available) on a Wednesday evening. Going home straight from work then walking for an hour with Scamp then getting back to the warm house is proving too difficult to then drag myself back out to run, so,  ideally, I will go to the track after work on a Thursday, walk Scamp round the river, then do reps on the track before I go home.

The weekend didnt go brilliantly either. On Saturday I was thinking of going down to run the Mid Lancs cross country near Blackburn. I didnt feel fantastic on the day, with a mildly sore throat and cough, so opted out of the long drive there and back with a intense training blast inbetween. Instead, I set off for the lakes at midday. Wearing walking, not running gear, I traipsed up Clough Head with ALL my camera gear on my back.  When I (eventually) got to the summit I turned around to see Blencathra now had a veil of clag obscuring the summit ridge where previously it had stood out against a backdrop of bright blue sky. I did get a couple of shots looking down to towards the Scafells, but the wind was so fierce I was unable to keep the tripod perfectly still so the otherwise great photos are not 100% sharp when viewed closely. I had really left it too late to get into the Lakes, early morning is best.

So on Sunday I met Penrith Stu at 9am and we set off on leg 1 of the BGR. Stu had said he would run Skiddaw only and although I was keen to complete the full leg, I knew that given my mild illness it would be sensible to cut it short.

We went to Millbeck then took the route up via Carlside. With approx 1 mile of flattish road to cover from Keswick, and at only 3.5miles (Latrigg route is 4 miles), the Carlside option is much steeper than the more commonly used Latrigg/Jenkin Hill ascent. Stu didn't like it. He moaned and moaned and moaned about how steep  it was and how unsuitable it would be to go that way on a BGR attempt. I was growing tired of his moaning - I didnt feel great myself, so I kept ahead  out of the way. Stu kept stopping to take photos - I think these were excuses to have a rest.  Fair play to Stu though, he's not long since been through an invasive and traumatic operation just below his bikini line. I reckon he will soon be back to form and wonder if he is thinking of being the first BGR 'doubler' (appear on Male and Female BGR successful completion lists)?
'Shirley' tackles Skiddaw

From Skiddaw we made for Gt Calva but on reaching the Cumbrian Way turned Right and ran all the way past Skiddaw House, under Lonscale and back to Keswick. I felt terrible and was pleased to have cut what might have been a 4 hour run to just 2.5.

We continue.

Friday, January 11, 2013

If you gan up t'fells.....

I'm one of the luckiest people I know. Living in nearby Carlisle, I get to work, walk and run in the Lake District almost as often as I want to. I've sat down on warm rocks on Sharp Edge in the height of a summer heatwave, I've stood on Helvellyns summit in deep snow and blinding sun photographing what I saw, I have ran non stop for 7 hours in unceasing rain, and I've been blown off my feet on numerous tops at all times of year. I've scarcely scratched the surface yet in exploring my home county but consider myself competent enough to attempt any route you care to mention.

Currently there seems to be a lot of talk about the rescues, injuries and, unfortunately, deaths of Lake District venturers.  Mountain Rescue Teams (MRT) are reporting year on year increase in callouts. The number of such incidents is almost certainly due to the rise in the number of visitors, not an increase in their incompetence . TV programs based in or depicting the region, and well known public figures holidaying/visiting here help to swell visitor numbers, many of whom will take to  the high ground in search of a challenge, peak bagging, or just the view from.

But when a tragedy occurs there are calls for some type of regulation, for checks on competence, for insurance, or even for signage indicating danger (as when the youngster from Blackburn drowned in Ullwaters, deep cold water).

Such restrictions would of course  meet with huge opposition, as well as be unworkable and spoil the area and peoples enjoyment of it.

As with 99% of life - common sense is  the answer. And if common sense is ignored then personal responsibility comes into play.

If you become lost, ill or injured on a fell you should know what to do to get yourself out of trouble. The MRT will do their utmost to help you if (presuming you get a phone signal) you call them in.... But they are  not obliged to... they are all volunteers - the equipment all paid for and maintained by donation. They are not a government backed organisation like the ambulance service fire brigade or police, in fact, the chancellor helps himself to 20% of 'our' donations to MRT in the form of VAT.

Strolling up Catbells in a tee shirt at noon in July might seem an idyllic way to see a little more of the landscape. You might find it an easy stroll, so then you go on a little higher. Maybe then you stop for your sandwich and a lie down in the warm sun. But then, next thing you know it gets towards teatime and the clouds rollover in front of the sun. Spits of rain start, nothing much, but you're soon wet. The wind whips up to just 20mph but thats enough to make you feel very cold indeed. So you turn for home. Rushing a little you slip on a wet rock, twisting your ankle. It hurts  to walk so you figure you can halve the distance by going straight down off the fell toward the lake and the road that you know runs alongside it where you can hitch a lift from a passing stranger back to your car. but without a map you didnt know about the craggy near vertical drop and you end up cragfast, injured, cold, wet and quickly losing bodyheat. By dark you will be hypothermic. The road is only a few hundred metres down below you and cars are passing by every minute. But you dont have a torch or whistle to signal. You didnt tell anyone where you were going so by the time you are missed the rescue party will form without a clue where to start looking. Without help, by the morning....

Thats probably the worst possible outcome for worst prepared walker, but its only the second part that I conjured from my imagination. Tee shirted fellwalkers are to be seen daily in summer, and not just heading up tame Catbells.

So before you set off up a fell again have a look at the numerous books and websites that are out there dishing out helpful information on what to take along to ensure you stay safe, and know what to do if things go wrong. At the very least, ensure you have map, compass, whistle, waterproofs, hat & gloves, first aid kit, torch and food. It may seem a lot to carry with you, especially if you are certain you know where you are going and only intend a short outing. But what if you meet someone in difficulty? Better to help them by giving them all your spares while you set off back to civilisation for help than leave them shivering, wet and hungry.

Two final things -
1) if you see a MRT collection box on a shop counter - consider putting your change into it.
2) if you manage to carry a bottle of pop all the way up Scafell Pike... please try your hardest to carry it back down again. Even though you might be tired, it should be a much easier a task carrying the empty downhill. (and will save me having to do it for you a month later)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

I wish I was going skiing

I'm not the County Cross Country champion, Buster Douglas is. So I didnt feel I should take today off from running. Besides, it was the final day of my Christmas holiday and what better way to spend it (or any other day for that matter) than running up some of the biggest hills in't Lake District?

The XC race wasnt great. I started tentatively as I now always do, and by the end of lap 1 I was picking off runners ahead. Same throughout lap 2 but then by lap 3 I was being picked off myself. Still, with zero intervals or speedwork completed for many a week, I cant complain. And if I were to start regularly running mile reps or somesuch , then these 30-45 minute races would really come alive.

So for today (Sunday) I opted to have another test run over Bob Graham Round leg 1 (clockwise).

(i'm not going to specify the direction any more - y'all know what I mean by leg 1, and its only IWC who goes t'other way)

Was a late start (1205) and I knew I would need to be quicker than the other week to avoid darkness. But the other week was lots of snow and ice, and I also continued that day for an extra 4 hours, so no way should today take much more than about 3.5 hours.

Going up Latrigg for the third time in two days seemed weird. I even saw the same two ladies as I saw yesterday. (they had three distinctive dogs which caused me to remember them. One looked very much like Scamp. And the dogs were Collies too - boom boom).

I passed a number of Keswick AC runners coming down Latrigg, and also noted lots more runners coming toward Gale Rd on the path that fronts Lonscale. I think it was a club training thing. Evenif Id remembered though , I wouldnt have joined in as I like to include big climbs as much as possible when fell running. Mainly 'cos Im very lazy and like to walk!

Funnily enough though I didnt walk at all up Skiddaw today. I ran it all nice n easy style, pausing only to open the few gates. A decent tailwind helped the cause and I m not sure I would have done so well given  a headwind. Top was reached in 65 minutes and I ploughed straight  on over t'other side for a spell before edging Right, off the path in search of the famous 'four posts' which denote the ideal spot to climb over the fence.

Immediately over the fence there is now a well established trod cut into the hillside. It is a bit of a shame  to see such manmade impressions in the District. But its  unavoidable wherever people are attracted in large numbers. I made the top of Gt Clava in 37 minutes. It was covered in clag but I didnt want to use the fence line for descent (as i did last time) so followed my intuition on the line across the heather. I actually found a good trod within a few seconds of running - my intuition must be OK. The trod took me all the way to the path crossing and then over to the Caldew.

Knees got cold and wet in the Caldew then right into the dreadful walking climb up onto Mungrisedale Common. It wasnt anywhere near as bad today though. I made a point of deliberately lifting my knees high and marching in a straight line. As opposed to t'other week when I slipped and stumbled left and right and seemed to find every bog. I pretty much followed a bearing constantly until I came upon the path that leads to Blencathras Foule Crag approach. Ideally I would then have used another bearing to avoid Foule Crag and the scree below it and bring me out onto the very summit. But I didnt have the bearing in my head and getting the map out seemed a faff, so I climbed most the way up then cut through the scree on the Blencathra fell race line. I reached the trig point in 67 mins (from Gt Calva), then popped down to the A66 and my van. 3hrs 17 mins.

Thats a decent time for leg 1. I wasnt the least bit tired or hungry and felt like I could easily have ran on. This is just as well 'cos the full Bob Graham Round could easily take 20 hours longer than this....

We continue

Saturday, January 5, 2013

2012. That was the year that was

So, coming to the close of what has been one of the most memorable years of running and racing for some considerable time I thought a look back over the previous 12 months or so would be in order.

Its been by far and away my best year of running in terms of personal achievement. I may not have gotten close to any standard distance personal bests, but I found a new strength within myself and new belief that I CAN do things I previously thought would be out of my reach.

I won three not-inconsiderable races, and I ran some personal bests in fell events and the Buttermere Round.

The fantastic achievements of sportsmen and women in the UK throughout the year, including Olypmics, T de F, Tennis, Golf etc, and the Olympic Torch Relay only served to enthuse everyone who competes in and enjoys sport, whatever their level of ability.

January.... was mainly all about training hard for London Marathon, but I ran well at the Nine Standards fellrace on New years day, then again at the Mid Lancs XC meeting and finally, was 204th from 650 runners at the Northern Cross Country Championships.  A good solid start to 2012

February....was again filled with tough marathon-training runs. Also, for the 5th year in succession, ran the Buttermere Round road race. 21 miles on road, including Honister and Newlands Passes. I had a storming race and bettered my time of one year earlier, with 2:22 and fourth place.
Bit knackered after racing 21 miles

March.... continued with the marathon training and also a test race - Trimpell 20. It went badly, as did a little 10k race I completed later in the month. Hmmmm
10k race went sour but medals tasted good

April....Finally, after almost 4 months devoted to running a super marathon in London.... I stopped at 10 miles and left the route at 13. Read back to find out more but suffice to say this was what lead me in a new direction with my running....
At least I got to see Wes at the end of his PB run

Keswick Half.  (Photo by Melanie Sykes)

May.... was hot. May was the 2012 summer. I ran Keswick half marathon 3 minutes faster than the year before, proving I was in good shape despite the VLM debacle. I also entered another marathon which was to be held in....

June..... The Karrimor trail marathon was a new event organised by the Great Run people. Despite relatively small participant numbers it had all the hallmarks of a massive race. I especially liked the tanoy system through which I heard these words uttered as I completed the 26.2 miles -

"and here he comes, the WINNER of the inaugural Karrimor Keswick Trail marathon"

Yes, I won the marathon. My second marathon victory (after Langdale in 2007).
Thanks to Ali Wilson for taking my proudest photo
There must have been more stuff happened in June too but who cares? - I won a buddy marathon!

July.... was bookended by two good racing performances. Skiddaw fell race was first. I ran brilliantly, knocking a chunk off my pb. I enjoyed time on the fells during July but was worried I hadnt done enough really long stuff to run well in the Lakes 50 Ultra. Indeed, the final couple of hours of that race were tough going but luckily I had been speedy enough in the first 30 miles to build a decent cushion of time as race leader. So I won that one too!

Start of Lakes 50
Steve takes home the cup
Prize presentation

Kiprotich won on a very special day

August.... Olympics. Fantastic stuff! I went to London on the final day to watch the marathon.

Olympic Torch relay came to Cumbria and my great pal Stu Robinson jogged through Keswick carrying it. It was a thrilling day for me, never mind Stu.

August was also when I ran 45miles with Ian charters. Its a long way on the flat, but we also summited the 4 highest mountain in England. We had poor weather at times, made some errors, got a little bit lost, but, with invaluable support from Ians wife Pauline, we eventually stood on the fourth summit to witness a most glorious sunset. Then ran back to Keswick in the dark to complete the round. Truly a grand day out.

September....I went to Lanzarote on holiday and managed to pick up an Achilles injury that has plagued me ever since
the path where I got injured

October.... I ran two marathons. Actually, a marathon and a 50k. I ran crap at Chester marathon, quitting at 19 miles to jog home, then picking up the pace again at 21m to run in with Wes (who got ANOTHER pb).
The 50k was an offroad event in Ennerdale Valley. I ran poorly, taking some 15 minutes longer to complete the second half of the race than the first. I did win though, so the race breakdown stats tend to pale away from memory in light of being the winner for a third time in the year.
as Errol Brown famously sang "so, you win again"

November.... As always, I ran Brampton to Carlisle 10 miler. Not a stellar performance, but significantly inside the hour. I also spent a lot of time checking the course for the Tour de Helvellyn which I had entered in.....

December....Lots more fell running, including a mega 7hrs 50mins in the snow over Skiddaw, Blen, Clough Head, Dodds. I ran a Mid Lancs cross country race and was delighted to finish much higher up the field than usual, so by the time the TdeH came round just before Christmas I was itching to go.

It went OK. Not fantastic ( I was 15th) but apart from a energy low in the final hour which saw me lose 10 minutes, it was pretty much as I'd planned.

This is the kind of thing I had to cope with whilst recceing the TdeH route

For the great memories and experiences, I can't see 2012 ever being matched in our lifetime, but thats not to say that in 2013 and beyond I won't personally be getting myself out the door with road or fellshoes on my feet and enjoying every step, getting everything I can from these old set of lungs and striving for the greatest fitness I can manage.

We continue

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Last years news

I cant remember which day it was now. Being away from work over Christmas means the days lose identity. Especially if you go to the Lake District most of them, as I did. The best day was probably the day I went out early and ran up Blencathra.....

As I drove South I noted that fresh snow had fallen overnight. I figured it would be soft and runnable as it hadn't also been freezing. As for most visits to my favourite mountain I parked along the track from Scales and ran up via Mousthwaite Coombe then Scales fell. This was a training run, not a photography trip so I didnt take a camera with me. It would have been nice to record the view I witnessed as I looked behind me however. The sun was just up, but still hidden from view by cloud which was more or less covering the whole sky. But a few breaks and the low angle of the sun meant that lights was reflecting pale red from the underside of the clouds, illuminating the freshly snow dusted tops along the High Street line. At the same time I could also see ominous dark clouds further out to the West, adding drama to what I saw from high on my mountainside.  Within the space of about 20 minutes this scene had come and gone. The sun, still unseen, now too high to cast the red ambience. The fells saddened and took on their day clothes.

I took a few seconds inside 40 mins to climb to the summit. 

At the summit I took a couple of iPhone photos

Ok so I took more than a couple.

My rules for timing the run up and down Blen are....
Up- take every footpath, including zigzags. Cut no corners.
Down - shortest possible route, cut every corner.

So I set off down in the hope of beating 20 minutes and therefore the hour for the whole run (not including the time spent taking the 4 photos). This was achieved. By 10 seconds.

As it was still reasonably early I drove to Keswick and sought out a cafe for a full Cumbrian breakfast. It was the same as a full English as far as I could see but they called it a Cumbrian. I realised too late that Black Pudding was included. I dont like that so left it. I ate everything else though.

After brekky I had a mooch round Keswick

not much going on really

Plenty of walkers


I took a drive to the Lakeside

Then I drove to Castlerigg and captured the Blencathra Centre (lower LHS). Unsure how it got that name

Gr Calva. Top 2 (or 41) in a Bob Graham Round

St johns Vale
Next, I drove up to the Youth Centre which sits on the little known road between High and Low Rigg. I had never been there previously. Its a great wee spot for taking photos of Castlerigg, Blencathra, St Johns Vale, and even Thirlmere from High Rigg Summit.

The twisty steep road up to the Youth Centre.

Castlerigg Stone Circle (in the field)

What a great day out. I've had plenty more besides since then, including a race. Stay tuned.